Destination: Playoffs (We can do this, Seattle)

Franklin Gutierrez scores the winning run in the Mariners' 2009 home opener. (Cliff DesPeaux/
Franklin Gutierrez scores the winning run in the Mariners' 2009 home opener. (Cliff DesPeaux/

Five months ago we started this website in hopes of discussing a winning atmosphere. Our very first post talked about what this city had gone through, and what we deserved. To briefly sum it up, we deserved better than what we were getting.

Less than half a year ago, we were immersed in a losing culture, brought to the brink of apathy by sub-.500 sports teams and the constant nature of rebuilding.

Since then, it’s been a different story.

The UW men’s basketball team found their way into the NCAA Tournament after a two-year layoff.

The Seattle Sounders FC started their inaugural season with three consecutive victories.

And now the Seattle Mariners are 6-2.

That’s not enough, however. We can enjoy the winning start to the season, but we should expect more. It has been nearly a decade since the Mariners last the playoffs. That needs to end.

The team’s new management has put together a ballclub that can play. Eight games into the new year, we’ve seen what the product on the field can do. No, we don’t have the best team in Major League Baseball, but we clearly don’t have the worst, either, which is what most experts thought we’d have.

The ’09 Mariners sit somewhere between those two poles, teetering on the edge of mediocrity, and yet nearing the verge of greatness.

The difference-maker is the fans. With our help, this team can go far. That means we need to support our ballclub by watching games, heading out to the park, and helping perpetuate the level of excitement surrounding this team.

Yesterday, we gathered together to do just that.

At roughly 3:15 PM, we kicked off our season by regaling one of our heroes with cheers. He came jogging in on a red carpet, to the fanfare of pyrotechnics and balloon arches, amidst the baritone vocal chords of Safeco Field P.A. announcer Tom Hutyler, surrounded by a city’s love.

Unlike so many of his former teammates and peers before him — Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner, Dan Wilson, to name a few — Ken Griffey, Jr. wasn’t saying goodbye. He was saying hello. Unlike everyone else who had left the game, left the winning behind, and found the comfort of retirement or the confines of another municipality, Junior came back to Seattle to play baseball and to win, once again.

His reintroduction symbolized a new beginning. A rebirth of the victories, a goodbye to losing.

We need to cheer like we cheered yesterday, 40,000-plus strong, when Angels’ pitcher Scot Shields threw the ball down the right field line and gave the M’s a 3-2 extra inning victory.

We need to yell like we yelled for Junior’s first inning single, a bullet into right field that set up our first run of the ballgame.

We need to care like we cared about this team in 1995, and in 2001. We need to talk about them, appreciate them, and make sure they know that we’re behind them.

We can forget our recent past and make memories of our not-so-distant future. We can keep the smiles on the players’ faces, keep the smiles on our own faces, rattle visiting ballclubs, and rally around garlic fries, if nothing else.

We can forget about second place, third place, or the cellar and make the playoffs. We can dismiss losing and embrace winning.

And it’s up to us, the fans, to help make that happen.

We can do this, Seattle.

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